Hey, Brooklyn, you now have a rooting interest in the city’s quest to find “the taxi of tomorrow.”
A politically connected foreign automaker says it will bring hundreds of manufacturing jobs to the borough if its design is selected as the city’s new yellow cab.
Turkish automaker Karsan USA is one of the three companies remaining in the running to replace the current fleet with a safer, greener and more comfortable model.
The other two contenders are Detroit icon Ford and Nissan North America — but only Karsan’s cabs will have a Brooklyn touch.
“There has been mention of a possible Brooklyn location for some of the assembly,” said a city official familiar with the proposal.
And the work — including painting and seat placement — could bring some 350 jobs, according to Mike Schweinsburg, a spokesman for Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D–Sunset Park), who represents the neighborhood where the finishing work may be conducted.
Karsan USA’s president is William Wachtel, one of the founding partners of the powerful law and lobbying firm Wachtel & Masyr, whose client list includes Forest City Ratner, Home Depot and IKEA.
Backers said their support has nothing to do with politics — the Karsan V1 is just cool, featuring a rooftop solar panel and flashing to alert cyclists, pedestrians and motorists which door is opening. It’s also the best design for people in wheelchairs.
But it was the jobs, jobs, jobs that had locals cheering.
“It would be great to have any employer bringing 300 industrial jobs to Brooklyn,” said Josh Keller, executive director of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation, an advocacy group.
Borough President Markowitz, who recently feted the mayor of Istanbul at Borough Hall also threw his weight behind Karsan.
“Anything that creates more jobs is welcome,” he said. “Regardless of who wins the ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ competition, if they want to finish the taxis right here in Brooklyn — they have my vote!”
The company won a publicity coup recently when its design was selected as the favorite by 65-1/2 percent of respondants to the Taxi and Limousine Comission passenger survey.
Still, the city would not show its hand.
“We have three very strong final contenders and they are being evaluated as we speak,” said agency spokesman Allan Fromberg.“There is no front runner.”
The agency said it could reach a final decision in about a month, he said, and the finalists have been given 30 days to submit their final proposals — leaving legroom for changes.
The first new cabs could hit the asphalt in 2013, but it could take years to replace the city’s fleet of 13,237.